Why I take the bus

Written for GreenTeamBlog.org by Prof. Leslie Francis, Associate Dean for Faculty Research.

I know there are very good environmental reasons for taking public transportation. But there are other reasons that I’d forgotten, but that I’ve been reminded of on my recent bus trips.

Taking the bus makes me organize myself. I know the bus will come at a given point in time (I can track this, now, using UTA Bus Tracking on my phone). So I can’t diddle around. I need to be there for that bus—the one after that isn’t just around the corner.

More often than not, when I take the bus from my neighborhood to the U, I see colleagues I wouldn’t otherwise see. So there’s time for a friendly chat. And I’ve had some lovely chats with drivers, too, when the bus isn’t crowded and is stopped at a light.

Many people who take the bus are those whose lives are not going as well as mine is. Much more than Trax, the bus is disproportionately populated with people who are poor and disabled. Sometimes, I hear them tell their stories—to me, to others, or to no one in particular.

Ever since I started thinking about issues of political philosophy many years ago, my favorite image of equality has come from the sociologist Richard Titmuss: whether he, or a young West Indian, received cancer treatment in the fancy new theratron at their London hospital first was only due to “the vagaries of the London bus.”[1] If only we could think about equality in health care that way.

[1] Commitment to Welfare (1968)